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The Divinity of Croissants: Tartine Bakery

trista edwards


 It is 2 A.M. and I can't sleep. 

I can't sleep because I'm thinking about croissants. Hot, flaky, almond laden, dusted with powdered sugar croissants. And not just any pastry either but croissants from Tartine Bakery.

It has almost been a whole year since I indulged in this deliciousness. One. Long. Year. I don't know about you but I often day dream about bread. I mean, I eat it too but I'm not ashamed to admit that my mind often wanders to reflect on the pure, simple, heavenly joy of hot homemade bread so soft and fresh that it can't even be cut. You must tear it. Then you smear it with silky white butter and top with a drizzle of tupelo honey. 

Are you drooling, yet? Well, there's more. 

Last June, my partner and I took a trip to San Francisco. The trip was, in part, to celebrate my 30th birthday. We were spending a few days in the city, a day in Napa Valley, and then renting a car to drive down SR 1 to Big Sur. But first we needed to take in as much of the Golden Gate City as we could in a few days.

 There are always a few bullet points I *must* research before venturing into a new city. Those places of interest are not limited to but mainly include: best cocktail bars, best bakeries/donuts, and best bookstores. Tartine Bakery came highly recommended and it makes sense, it is pretty much an institution in the Golden City since its introduction in 2002. 

The bakery is located in the Mission District. A green building on the corner of Guerrero and 18th Streets and was a fifteen minute Uber ride from our pensione-style hotel, San Remo, in North Beach. We went the day of my birthday. We got up fairly early and despite it being the first day of summer, we were met with the famous San Francisco foggy chill. 

When we arrived, there was a line down the street. We waited for over an hour to get to the counter. I didn't care. It was a beautiful crisp morning. Steam and the aroma of bread wafted into the street. Pastries and hot coffee were on the horizon.  

Now, there was a fair amount of debate I came across in my online searches. Many swore by Tartine as THE bakery with THE best pastries. There was even a New York Times food columnist that touted it was his favorite bakery in the entire US. Others, mostly locals, shied away from the trendy, touristy vibe the bakery had acquired. Sentiments similar to NOLA natives cringing at mention of Café Du Monde being the absolute best in beignets. 

I've never been one to intimately care about 'what's trendy,' but I DO like to seek out the best in food and drink. Sometimes that means it is a trendy, hip spot but trendy, to me, does not simultaneously mean 'bad' or 'hackneyed.' Sure, it can end up being a trite spot but this was not the case. Good food is good food and boy was it good food. 



We ordered two black coffees, a toasted almond croissant, a Pain au Chocolat, and a ham quiche. All savory and sweet desires spanned out before us. It was hard not to order more but it was my birthday and I knew I would be drinking and eating my way across the city for the rest of the day. Who am I kidding? I was drinking and eating my way through the whole trip. Why else travel but to indulge in all the culinery delights of a new place? 

The croissant was everything I dreamed it would be. Warm and flaky. You could taste all the lucious butter the bakers used in creating the little golden moon. The quiche, fluffy yet dense with salted ham. The Pain au Chocolate, brittle to the bite and then gooey and rich. 

I often wonder if there is a word for 'delighting in lush descriptions of food.' I've searched for it to no avail. Sometimes reading the depictions of food are the most provocative passages of a novel or tantalizing lines in a poem.

I once attended a reading given by Neil Gaiman at the Texas Theatre in Dallas in which he read from his novel, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. In his selected passages, he read several pages in which the young protagonist worries over burnt toast and jam. 

In Elisabeth Bishop's "Going to the Bakery," the speaker relishes in "gooey tarts [that] are red and sore," "loaves of bread /  [that] lie like yellow-fever victims / laid out in a crowded ward," and milk rolls, "still warm / and made with milk, [the baker] says. They feel / like a baby on the arm."

Bishop, could you be more divine? 

I just want to go back. Back to Tartine and gorge myself on perversities of sugar, pluck out berries from their blue black space in the cracked tributaries of a scone, and crunch down on the bronze hull of the freshest loaf.

A Traveler Born: How I Grew to Love Escape 

trista edwards



Ever since I was a child, I’ve been inflicted with a sense of escape either in the form of make believe or little journeys. I had a whole trunk of old evening gowns and prom dresses that my mom and grandma would occasionally pick up at the thrift store for me to play in. These dresses transformed my world. I could be anybody. My favorite garb was a strappy dark mauve cocktail dress with an A-line skirt. My mom sewed in layers of black tulle under the fabric at the waistline to make the bottom super poufy. I stuck a feather in my bunned hair, sported jet black boots, and kicked my legs high like a saloon girl I saw on a movie dancing the can-can. (All the while being a wee girl still in grade school...certainly a very quaint imagination.) I recycled all my old Halloween costumes and wore them far beyond their October 31 expiration date, often parading around as a mermaid or a witch throughout the entire year.

When at times a painfully shy child, why not be somebody else? Why not escape or hide in a costume? Why not travel to another time, place, state of being through make believe than stay put in the anxiety of typical childhood fears?

But maybe escape isn't the right word? People are often chastised for their escapes. Viewed by some as a weakness, a mental or emotional distraction from the realities of life. But don't we need this too? Too much escape can potentially lead to a dark place but escape also takes you to new realties, new perspectives, introspection, fosters creativity, and builds a sense of awe.

This has lead me to a life of marveling. A life of literature and writing and travel. When I escape from one world, I am visiting another--real or imagined. Whether it is in my head or my feet pushing me off in a magical direction. I will continue welcoming escape to new places and experiences. 

My affection for actual, physical travel bloomed just as early on.

Growing up in Ohio, my grandpa would frequently take me to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport to watch the planes take off. In a pre-9/11 world, we could drift all the up to the gates and ogle the jets out the ginormous floor to ceiling windows. I would stand in awe of sheer size of the planes, the bustle of passengers departing and arriving, the smell of the gasoline, the grumble of the engines, the glimpse of the control tower and all the blinking lights in the distance. It all seemed to signify ‘somewhere else.’  I wanted to be wherever that ‘somewhere’ was.

I was a young girl who became a veteran day-tripper. Always climbing in the car with my parents to the nearest state park for a hike or family trips with the grandparents to Put-In-Bay, a small island village on Lake Erie. To Sugarcreek or or Millersburg, AKA “Amish Country,” for homemade crafts, cheese, and pumpkins. To southern Ohio to visit Fenton, an old glass factory in Martins Ferry. To the Warthers Museum of wood carving in Dover dedicated to the master carver, Ernest “Mooney” Warther. To the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton. Needless to say, not only did I develop a love for adventure but for the niche destination. I have recollections of visiting energy plants, recycling centers, apple orchards, the crypt of President James A. Garfield.

Eventually I travelled even further away.

Pittsburgh to ride the Duquesne Incline. Deep into the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia for family reunions. South Carolina for the thrills of the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach. The salty gulf coast and the alligator invested waters of Florida once my grandparents left Ohio for a Sunshine State retirement. And finally to Georgia, where at the age of twelve I moved with my parents and younger brother to make a home among the coiling kudzu and the monuments of the Confederate dead. 

My adoration for the day trip only continued and grew from there. I wanted to learn more about my new strange home with its different dialect, vernacular, climate, and complex history but also I relished in the escape of travel in the face of a new school, unfamiliar kids, and puberty. It was perhaps the only time in my life that my desire to explore grew from my want to return to the recognizable, the familiar, the old. But maybe that’s always what travel is?

I’ve by no means done all I could ever want to do. I’m still doing it. But I have managed to visit 26 states, 8 countries, 2 principalities, and the Vatican. I’ve been off the beaten path and I’ve waited in line to take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building.

I’m only 30. I want to do it all. I will do it all.